15 Healthy Veganish Family Meals

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A veganish diet is the answer to that feeling of defeatism that comes from browsing #cleaneating posts. It’s a whole food diet with an attainable approach.

This attainability sets veganish eating apart from strict regimes and pointless “rules.”

There’s only one veganish rule, really: Stay Calm and Avoid Processed Food (and Most Animal Products).

In this article I feature 15 healthy, veganish family meals and created a PDF for the all-star recipes. If you’d like to get straight to the food stuff, click here.

What Is Veganish?

Simply, veganish is a plant-based, whole foods diet. It’s not about a lifestyle. The focus is on nutrition.

This diet is about harm reduction rather than diet “purity” and rigidity.

Veganish is taking steps towards dietary health rather than giant strides.

A veganish diet avoids processed foods and consumes cheap, nutrient-dense, whole foods, without twitting out about it.

That last part is really important.

veganish healthy family dinner
These BBQ meatballs are fake. The kids don’t care.

Where’s The Beef?

95% of a veganish diet is plants and plant-based protein. But. A veganish diet doesn’t avoid aaaaalllll animal products.

I said what I said.

I’m not out here eating steaks, fish, chicken, or dairy milk/yogurt. But my family eats eggs and cheese. I bake with butter (uh, palm oil is awful).

When looking at a nutrition label, I care much more about the presence of macronutrients than that of honey. I care more about the absence of preservatives than I do that of gelatin.

That little sticker that says, “made in the same space that processes eggs or dairy?” It doesn’t mean a thing to me.

What About Eating Out?

When eating out, veganish becomes vegetarianism.

There can be pressure and social anxiety centered around eating outside one’s home; there’s no reason to embrace a diet to such an extent that it makes an enjoyable activity uncomfortable.

Ditching Processed Food

Avoiding processed foods is a huge tenet of a veganish diet.

Processed foods should be avoided. Period. They’re full of artificial ingredients that make us sick.

And avoiding processed food is also an easy way to avoid animal products.

Easy, veganish homemade fruit and grain bars
Nutri-who? The kids love making fruit and grain bars at home.

Why Veganish? (As Opposed to Veganism or Vegetarianism)

Because eating healthy is hard enough, and being a strict vegan sounds restrictive and exhausting (uh, cuz it is, fight me).

Being veganish is simply a way to eat, not meant to dictate other aspects of life. Personally, I don’t think the same can be said of veganism.

If I were “just” a vegetarian, I’d eat too much dairy. And, uh, that ish is bad for us.

Further, transitioning from an omnivore or vegetarian diet to a veganish one is easier than going full vegan. It’s even easier to go full vegan after eating veganish.

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Better For Us

The reasons to eat a veganish rather than omnivore diet are depressing and scary. They involve the disgusting and inefficient nature of agribusiness and contamination of the general animal protein supply.

The preservatives in processed food cause us to gain weight and could give us cancer.

Better For Our Kids

There is strong evidence that processed foods contain ingredients that can affect children’s mood and behavior.

We’ve all seen the effects of a sugar rush and subsequent crash in our children (and ourselves, let’s be honest).

But treats are “allowed!”

A veganish diet isn’t anti-cookie, it’s anti-Chips Ahoy. It’s not anti-granola bar, it’s anti-Nature Valley. It’s not anti-cake, it’s anti-Duncan Hines.

Better For The Planet

The agriculture industry, dispersion of food vs. land, and cow farts (seriously) are detrimental to our ecosystem.

There are many documentaries, articles, YouTube videos, and books all about it.

Veganish healthy kid friendly dinner
Fake chicken, real creamy mashed potatoes

Get Your Veganish Meals

Sign up and I’ll send you a recipe sheet of my favorite veganish meals.

    We won’t send you spam 🙂

    How To Switch Family to Veganish Meals

    Gradually

    The beauty of a veganish diet is its gradual nature. There’s no reason to go from frozen pizzas to bean sprouts.

    Keep eating pizza! Grocery stores have vegan options (or make your own).

    If your family traditionally eats “meat and potatoes” meals, keep doing that! Just replace the real meat with a fake meat equivalent.

    Once everyone is comfortable with processed food vegan replacements, start experimenting with more “out there” plant-based food and recipes. Throw some tempeh in the rotation, make your own cashew cheese.

    Switch processed food out slowly

    No need to rush here, either. I’m not asking you to throw out all the processed foods in your pantry.

    But I am asking you not to replace them when they’re gone.

    Almost any store-bought processed food can be duplicated at home. However. You’ll find that not all dupes are worth the time and effort.

    Sure, you could make your own pop tarts at home, but you’ll soon grow tired of all that mess. Chocolate chip cookies, though, are much easier.

    Soon you’ll have an efficient and steady rotation of homemade treats.

    Have fun with themes! (Taco Tuesday, etc)

    Show your family how versatile a veganish diet can be with themes!

    Traditional “themed” foods are way easy to make veganish. Love Taco Tuesday? Replace ground beef with ground soy protein crumbles.

    Same with Italian! All kinds of mock meats can be used to replace animal protein in pasta dishes.

    Many traditional Asian meals are plant-based, too (or easy to make so).

    bowl of vegan cauliflower mac and cheese
    A batch of my vegan cauliflower mac and cheese is made with an entire head of cauliflower and two huge carrots

    Hide the veggies

    It might not be the most honest approach. But you can add more vegetables to your family’s diet, secretly.

    Like a ninja.

    Serve spinach smoothies for breakfast, but with sweet tropical fruit (to mask the flavor) and blueberries (to hide the green).

    Check out this article for other sneaky vegetable tips.

    Eat the veggies and fruits (in front of your children)

    I realized something a few weeks ago: my kids rarely see me snack on fruits and vegetables.

    And I’ve been veganish for a decade.

    Sure, they’ve seen me eat salads at lunch and veggies at dinner, but I rarely sit down with raw carrots and hummus or grab a banana in the middle of the afternoon.

    Since then, I’ve made a more conscious effort to eat fruit and vegetables outside of mealtimes, in front of my kids.

    Involve the whole family

    By involving the whole family, you’re inviting them to a veganish diet, not hoisting it on them.

    Make and try new recipes, as a family (start with dessert).

    Create Family Veganish Cookoff Challenges: split into teams and see who best “veganish-izes” traditional animal product dishes.

    If it’s age-appropriate and they’re interested, invite your family to watch some documentaries about the perils of food production.

    Ish Mom garlic parmesean hummus
    I whip up some hummus in my food processor every week

    Outsmart Decision Fatigue

    Changing lifestyles, particularly the way one eats, is hard enough. And decision fatigue makes it harder.

    Decision fatigue is the unique brain fog and lethargy caused by making too many decisions. Coined by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, decision fatigue has been extensively studied.

    Decision fatigue is real and debilitating.

    Tackle decision fatigue offensively and slash the number of decisions that need to be made, especially when it comes to meals, eating, and food preparation.

    Eat approximately three dozen meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) in steady, planned rotation; make the same snacks every week. You can’t agonize over what to eat if there aren’t that many choices.

    Fifteen Healthy Veganish Meals For Kids

    Alright, let’s get to the exciting stuff! Food.

    These fifteen healthy veganish family meals are quick to get on the table.

    Again, habit change is hard, and I don’t want to make anything harder.

    The ingredients in these meals are easy to find and inexpensive. None of the meals are so exotic as to raise the traditional omnivore’s eyebrow.

    Vegan banana bread
    This banana bread is vegan!

    Veganish Breakfast

    Breakfast is hands down the easiest meal to make veganish.

    A veganish diet includes eggs, egg dishes, and traditional breakfast breads (but tofu scrambles are delicious and flax eggs are a thing if that’s a problem for you).

    There are tons of breakfast mock meat options, too.

    More of a cereal person? Cool, have your cereal with non-dairy milk.

    Veganish Lunches

    Soups and salad (see PDF)

    There are soooo many ways to make these dishes veganish. Salads, obviously. Check out the PDF for some of my favorite veganish soups.

    Banana and nut butter roll-ups

    Spread a whole wheat tortilla with nut butter, roll it around a banana, and cut in to coins.

    Avocado toast

    Pita bread/bagel/English muffin/tortilla pizzas

    Use non-dairy or traditional cheese, I don’t really care.

    Rice pudding (see PDF)

    Slightly sweet and full of protein, my preschoolers love this lunch.

    Cold grain salads

    Leftover cooked quinoa or couscous? Make a quick and hearty cold grain salad.

    Shepherd’s pie (see PDF)

    Veganish healthy dinner braised tofu
    Braised tofu with stir-fried broccoli and garlic butter noodles (yes, the kids ate this)

    Veganish Dinners

    Sheet pan dinners

    Toss some veggies with oil and seasonings, tofu with a panko bread crumb mixture, roast on baking sheets, and call it a day.

    Cauliflower mac and cheese

    Potato-carrot bake (see PDF)

    A fun little casserole with a cracker crust.

    Casseroles

    What a versatile dish! Casseroles of all stripes can be made veganish, with fake ground beef, or just stuffed with grains, vegetables, and pasta.

    White bean spinach quesadillas (see PDF)

    So much protein, done in thirty minutes.

    Salad, baked potato, or nacho bar

    Another versatile option (use veggies! or grains! clean out the fridge of leftovers!), and a fun way to use toppings. The cauliflower “cheese” sauce from the mac and cheese recipe is great on baked potatoes or nachos.

    Easy blender corn pudding

    Cheeseburger Dip (see PDF)

    Ok, this recipe isn’t healthy. But I love it.

    veganish home made fruit and grain bars
    Those fruit and grain bars turned out amazing

    Bonus: Veganish Snacks

    These are some of my favorite veganish snacks.

    veganish brunch baked oatmeal
    Baked oatmeal is an amazing brunch! I use real eggs but you don’t have to.

    Get Your Veganish Meals

    Sign up and I’ll send you a recipe sheet of my favorite veganish meals.

      We won’t send you spam 🙂

      A veganish diet is a compromise between health and dogma.

      The three tenets of a veganish diet changed my life.

      Avoiding processed food and most animal proteins yielded a variety of health benefits. Focusing on the food rather than a lifestyle helped me get out of my own head when it comes to food. And purposely lessening decision fatigue freed up the mental space needed for habit change (and more!).

      Do you have any plant-based meals in your rotation? Let me know in the comments.

      Happy munching!

      Love,

      megan imhoff
      Megan

      Megan

      Megan writes everything on Ish Mom. She possesses a bachelor's degree in psychology, a flair for theatrics, and a whole lotta nerve. She lives in the Midwest (and loves it) with her wonderful husband and three young boys.
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